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Wills of David L. Cross and wife Mary Himes Cross, Sullivan County, Tennessee, 1878-1879

David L. Cross (1798 - 1879) of Sullivan County, Tennessee was the son of my fourth great grandfather William Cross the Revolutionary War drummer boy. As such, David was the brother of my third great grandfather Alfred Carter Cross.

William Cross moved from Sullivan County to Knox County, Tennessee in 1817, and he moved again about a year later, the second time to Anderson County, Tennessee. Alfred Carter Cross moved to Knox and Anderson counties with his father, but David L. Cross never left Sullivan County.

The will of David L. Cross is very important to research on William Cross because the will mentions land in Anderson County which was inherited by David from his father. David's will in turn grants his share of the land to his son Elijah J. Cross, who was stated to have been living on the land in Anderson County at the time.

David's will does not mention his father's name. Because William Cross was the only Cross man who owned land in Anderson County and who was of an age to have been David's father, David's will confirms that he was the son of William Cross.

There was an 1888 lawsuit between and among Cross family members. The result of the lawsuit was that land that had been owned originally by William Cross was sold at auction at the courthouse door and the proceeds of the sale were distributed to the parties to the lawsuit. Elijah Cross was one of the plaintiff's in the law suit. David's will mentioning the land in Anderson County along with his son Elijah who was living in Anderon County helps to tie all the pieces of the puzzle together.

There were really two wills for David L. Cross. The 1878 will was joint with his wife Mary (Polly) Himes. The will was proved in court in 1878 after Mary's death. The 1879 will was for David alone. The 1879 will was very much shorter than the 1878 will because all the land owned by David and Mary was disposed of by the 1878 will at the time of Mary's death. The two wills need to be read and interpreted together.

1878 Will, Sullivan County Will Book 1, page 306

Mary (Polly) Himes Cross will
Sullivan County, Tennessee, will book 1, pages 306-308
Signed 11 Feb 1876, Proven Dec 1878

(Named in Polly's will: sons E.D (Elkanah), (David) Marshall, Samuel & Elijah,
daughters (Mary) Polly, Amanda & Margaret, granddaughter Freola Williams)

The Last will     |  Ordered to be recorded Decem-
     of           |  ber term 1878
Polly Cross Decd  |

We David L Cross & Mary Cross his
wife being advanced in years, and knowing the uncertainty
of life and the certainty of death, and being of sound minds
and competent to dispose do now make our last Will and

1st The land on which we live and known as the share laid
off to the Testators as the portion of the George Himes tract, and
lying on the waters of Linville Creek, Sullivan County, Tennessee
we desire as follows:

2nd said tract contains by survey 212 acres
but subject to small deduction or loss on the side line
next to Deck land of some seven acres which we propose
to divide into seven shares or parcels.
E.D. Cross is to inherit the share next to the Preston land
or adjoining it including the houses and spring where Min-
ick now lives & which is to certain ________ with a
proportional amount of woodland to support it. Should
he wish to improve it, said improvement shall not be taken into consideration.

3rd There shall be two shares laid off including the
home dwelling & building around it including the stable
for the use and benefit of Polly and Amanda

4th Two shares shall be laid off from the east East (sic) end
of the tract so as to give the house in which Samuel
R Cross now lives to one share and the house in which
E.D. lives to the other share.
The remaining two shares to be laid off out of the re-
maining portion of land as near equitable as possible.
It is understood that E.D. Cross, Marshall, Samuel,
Polly, Amanda, Margaret our children and Freola Williams
our grand daughter one the seven heirs which are to
in hand said seven parcels or shares of land -- and
it further understood that should any of the children be
permitted to build or improve a share such improvement
shall not be taken into Consideration nor shall the houses
and stable be valued to Polly & Amanda.

5th The personal property that may be left on hand by the

The 1878 will was a joint will for David L. Cross and his wife Mary (Polly) Himes Cross. Mary died first and the will was proved at the time of her death. The 1879 will was a will for David L. Cross alone. The provisions of the two wills were substantiall the same, but they need to be read together.

For our purposes, the most important provisions in the wills are the mention of David L. Cross's interest in his father's and in Anderson County which is to be given to their son Elijah Cross, and the statement that Elijah resided in Anderson County. These statements along with data from Anderson County provide evidence that David was the son of William Cross the Revolutionary War drummer boy.

These statements provide evidence for the following reasons:

  • William Cross was the only Cross man who owned land in Anderson County and who was of an age appropriate to have been David's father.
  • Elijah Cross was one of the plaintiffs in an 1888 lawsuit in Anderson County between and among members of the Cross family. The lawsuit was over land that had been owned by William Cross at the time of his death in 1844, and Elijah was paying taxes on the land prior to the lawsuit.

1878 Will, Sullivan County Will Book 1, page 307

Testators at their deaths shall discard to Polly and Amanda.

6th Our son Elijah Cross who now lives in Anderson County, Tenn-
essee has at several times done jobs of work upon the place
which we expect to make him ample compensation and we
herein include a just and equitable account of said work done
and compensation rendered him at several times as follows.
Our house was built the year 1856 and we were aided in
the work by Elijah, also Frank Cross, E.D. Cross, - Saml &
Marshall Cross - all working at the same time until the logs
were hewn & raised and covered. Elijah layed the lower floor
aided by Frank & Saml.

7th Elijah was paid during the time said work was done the
following value to wit - nine yards of five James cloth to shill payd 9.00
To making one James Coat $200 to 2 pounds 50 cts each 3.00            3.00
To making five shirt 73 c to 2 pence ilss (sic) 25 each               1.25
 "   "    1 pr socks 50 cts 1 pair suspenders 23 c                     .75
 "   "    2 common shirts 33 1/3 cts each                              .66 2/3
                                                                     14.66 2/3

Work done by Elijah Cross in the year 1873 aided by
Samuel - E.D. & Marshall Cross covering barn most
of the boards made by other parties.
At the time said work was done Elijah Cross and wife came
to the homestead about March 1872 and remained 13 months
boarding with us making 102 weeks at $2.00 pounds week              $208.
subject to a credit for 5 bus (bushels) wheat at 6 c per bus           5.00
by coffee $3.00 by bacon $2.30                                         7.00
                                     cr (credit) by and above         14.66 2/3
                                                                     181.33 1/3
                              To washing &                         7.00
                                                                    $188.33 1/3

The foregoing account is as near the true statement of
facts as can be recollected and the credits due him
for work done on house in 1837 (1873) is given as it would be
difficult to make an estimate owing to so many others
engaged with him, but the Testators are willing to do him
ample justice and to more than compensate him for
any services done. We therefore will and bequeath to Elijah
Cross the share of land belonging to David L Cross as
an inheritance from his fathers estate, also one other

At this point in the will of 1878, Elijah Cross is identified as David's son who is living in Anderson County and Elijah is bequeathed a share of land belonging to David as an inheritance from his father's estate. The land from his father's estate is not yet identified as lying in Anderson County. The will goes into great detail as to work that Elijah has performed that deserves extra compensation in the will.

1878 Will, Sullivan County Will Book 1, page 308

interest in land purchased with the said David L Cross
means - It is intended by the Testators to convey by this will
all lands that they are seized of or have a right-to in An-
derson County Tennessee. From surveyors report there
are included in said tract two hundred and twelve
acres of land, said lands shall be divided as follows.
Said Polly & Amanda our daughters and Freola Williams
our grand daughter shall have also a like share each of them
shall contain twenty acres. That is twenty acres to Polly, twen-
ty acres to Amanda as before stated so laid off as to include
the dwelling house and stable also a spring and water
privileges to the Simon Deck line. After deducting 8 acres
for loss, the Simon Deck run will be 204 acres. Of this amount E.D.
Cross is to have 41 aces as a renumeration for his ser-
vices & etc and other liabilities which he may become responsible
for. This leaves a balance of 103 acres which is to be equally
divided according to quality & quantity between Samuel, Marshall
and Margaret Slaughter our daughter which makes each
have 34 1/3 acres each - Now it understood that of costs
upon old land suits & etc. also back taxes & etc. amounting to some
$100 is soon to be paid and should said 4 last named
heirs pay the same equally they shall have said land as stated.
Otherwise said parties paying same shall be entitled to same
at say $10 per acre to come from these last shares.
To prevent any misunderstanding among those to whom these
desires are made is further understood that David L.
Cross is to have a lifetime support upon said land.

In testimony whereof we sign this instrument in the pres-
ence of witnesses on the eleventh day of Feby 1876.
(signed) R.P Fickle             Polly ( X ) Cross (seal)
(signed) Jno D Massingill              mark
Subscribing witnesses

Proven in open Court by oaths of R.P. Fickle and J.D. Mas-
sengill & ordered to be recorded.
                                          Test - A.J. Cross Clerk

On this page of the 1878 will, there is finally a mention of David's interest in land in Anderson County. The sentences do not parse or scan very well. The will seems to jump from a discussion of the land that David and Mary own in Sullivan County to a discussion of David's interest in his father's land in Anderson County, and then without warning the discussion jumps right back to a discussion of the 212 acres in Sullivan County.

The best way to understand that David and Mary intended Elijah to have the land in Anderson County that David inherited from his father is to read the 1878 and the 1879 wills together.

1879 Will, Sullivan County Will Book 1, page 309

The Last will     | Ordered to be recorded February
     of           | term 1879
D. L. Cross Decs. |

Knowing the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death
being feeble in body, yet of sound and disposing mind
propose to arrange my worldly affairs and therefore make
this Instrument as my last Will & Testament.

The land on which I know live being disposed already I propose
to give to my daughter Polly and Amanda my personal proper-
ty as follows - jointly and equally I desire to them my farm
wagon, Plows, gearing, Cutting Box, Cook Stove and all cook-
ing vessels & fixtures, also all wash vessels - I desire to them
also the house-hold furniture and fixtures that I have an
interest in part of which I consider already belongs to them.
The hogs on hand I consider belongs to them also the cattle on
hand I consider their own property. But whatever interest I
may have if any I set over to them.

All the farming tools of every description including the
windmill I desire to them. I have at the shop of Mr James
Watkins a wagon to iron which I want ironed & sold or
retained on the farm and the one now in use sold and ap-
plied to the payment of my just debts. This I leave at the
option of the two girls named above.

The land interest I owned in Anderson County I desire
my son Elijah, who now resides in on said county
should I yet retain the legal interest in said lands.
But should the statute of limitation pays such interest out
of my hands then I hereby Confirm his interest thereto
should my title still be adjudged legal to said land
interests: then I desire all my right title, interests, & etc. & etc.
forever to the said Elijah.

Witness                    Jany 24, 1879              his
(signed) James H Watkins                     David L ( X ) Cross (seal)
(signed) G.M. Loudy                                   mark
(signed) R.P. Fickle

Proven in open Court by the oaths of James H Watkins and
G. M. Loudy and ordered recorded
Feby 3rd 1879                                     Test A.J. Cross Clerk

The will of 1879 is very brief, the land of David L. Cross and his wife Mary having been disposed of at the time of Mary's death in 1878. For our purposes, the salient feature of the will of 1879 is that David reiterates that his interet in his land in Anderson County is to be granted to his son Elijah Cross who resides in Anderson County.

The will of 1879 does not repeat that David inherited his interest in the land in Anderson County from his father. We rely on the 1878 will for that information. The 1879 will simply reinforces that the interest is to be granted to his son Elijah and that Elijah is living in Anderson County.

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This page last edited on 20 Jun 2016.